This story was written by Keith Dawson for the Industry Standard's Media Grok email newsletter. It is archived here for informational purposes only because The Standard's site is no more. This material is Copyright 1999-2001 by Standard Media.

Can You Budget for Elections? ICANN't

May 11 2001 09:01 AM PDT

The group that runs the domain-name system says it elects its board members from the Internet community, but if you look at its latest budget, you wouldn't think so.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is supposed to run the domain-name system in an open and transparent manner, but ICANN's critics accuse it of operating behind closed doors and springing surprises at public meetings. So the editors and readers of the ICANNWatch Web log resort to a kind of online dumpster diving, scouring ICANN's Web sites, mailing lists and conference-call logs. This week ICANNWatch turned up a draft of next year's budget proposal; a couple of media outlets picked up the story.

Writing on the ICANNWatch site, University of Miami law professor Michael Froomkin criticized ICANN for allocating zero dollars to run an at-large election next year. Originally, half of ICANN's board was supposed to be elected by members of the Internet community. The organization has cut elected representation from nine board members to five, and its critics accuse it of scheming to eliminate any openly elected representatives.

The Register's Andrew Orlowski pounced on the budget's lack of funding for elections, referring to the proposed budget's drafter, Mike Roberts, as ICANN's "Maximum CFO." (Roberts is no longer associated with ICANN.)

InternetNew's Brian McWilliams turned in a balanced look at the budget proposal, even paraphrasing an ICANN spokesperson on the proposal's status. McWilliams mentioned the lack of funding for at-large elections, but spent more column inches arguing that ICANN's spending priorities are set mostly by the domain-name registrars who pay the bulk of ICANN's bills. McWilliams quoted ICANNWatch's Froomkin: "Why do the registrars get the inside track and get to comment before the rest of us? The answer is obvious. They've got lawyers, and they've got money."

Leaked ICANN Budget Reveals Plans

Leaked ICANN Budget Apportions $0 for Elections
The Register

ICANN Proposed Budget Leaked on the Web